This I Believe
I believe in friendship. A few years ago I met a woman who needed a friend. She was young, pretty, well spoken. Something drew me to her and we became the best of friends. She had two, tongue wagging yellow labs and I had a little white mutt – they too became the best of friends. We lived in a townhouse community and saw each other in passing every day.
Getting to know Tammy was not something that came easily but because we saw each other every day we gradually became friends. Soon I was letting her dogs out at lunchtime while she was at work. Her apartment was cozy and pretty, but she lived alone and never had company. Once I borrowed a cookbook and found a picture of Tammy in a wedding dress. She was shocked when I asked her about it and she confessed she had once been married. Her manner told me not to pry. I wondered about that time in her life but she never discussed the other people in the picture. I didn’t know why Tammy seemed so alone but one thing I did know – she needed a friend.
She lost her job and she began to let me in to her life in a more meaningful way. I invited her to have dinner with me on several occasions. She came over once or twice but seemed reluctant so I started making extra portions and bringing them over to her apartment after dinner. I knew that money was tight for her and she lived on angel food cake and soup. She seemed so grateful for the pork chops and lasagnas; it was truly a pleasure making them for her. I took care to make it seem like leftovers. She began to leave me thank you notes and little gifts from her house.
With this new level of friendship came some heartbreaking realizations about who Tammy was. Tammy suffered from severe depression and while she was so put together on the outside, her heart and soul were in many pieces on the inside. This smart, beautiful woman was struggling to put these pieces back together.
One day, on my way out, I looked up to Tammy’s windows and saw the shades were still drawn. This was unusual but it had happened once or twice before so I called her when I returned a few hours later. I left several messages throughout the day and began to feel worried. I let myself into her apartment and called her name. The lack of a reply was louder than any noise I had ever heard. Tammy was gone. She had taken her own life. I felt horrified and betrayed. I was so devastated that I was sorry I had ever become her friend. Later I found that she had written me a beautiful, loving goodbye. She thanked me for our friendship and the kindness I had shown her. Our friendship had been a light in her darkness. Everyone needs friendship, this I believe.
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